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6 Tips for Banishing Caregiver Guilt During the Holidays

If your family is like most, the holiday season brings guilt as well as joy. That’s especially true for caregivers who are struggling to balance a desire to create “perfect” holidays with the reality of feeling overwhelmed by family responsibilities.

            At Maria Regina, we help families banish guilt and find joy by celebrating new holiday traditions and embracing possibilities, while doing all we can to follow essential protocols to prioritize the health and safety of our staff and residents.

            Ranked among New York’s top quality senior care facilities by both Newsweek Magazine and Medicare, Maria Regina is a premier skilled nursing and rehabilitation center dedicated to offering holistic, loving, resident-centered care. Originally founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph, we treat every resident as a dear neighbor, crafting personalized care plans that take into account everything from medications to favorite activities and meals. We also offer a full spectrum of superior rehabilitative services on a short-term basis.

            Our compassionate, skilled pastoral care team offers daily Mass and prayer services, and is dedicated to meeting the spiritual needs of residents and their families of all denominations. That’s especially important during the holidays.

            “When families visit loved ones in long-term care facilities over the holidays, grief over changes in family situations and caregiver guilt over not being able to do more sometimes overshadows the joy of the season,” says Michele Boccia, Director of Pastoral Care. “We dedicate ourselves to helping residents and families let go of expectations and find new ways to celebrate being together.”

            Instead of feeling guilty about not being able to carry off Norman Rockwell holiday celebrations, we ask our families at Maria Regina to remember that those images were created decades ago. Today’s “average” family is very different. Instead of many generations living together and women staying home as they did in the fifties and sixties, most of us must now juggle jobs with caregiver responsibilities. We’re often exhausted before the holidays even begin.

            Here are six ways you can let go of the guilt and embrace joy during the holidays:

  1. Recognize Reality. Erase your fantasies about a perfect holiday and reset your expectations.
  2. Simplify your Plan. Make a list of what you need to do for the holidays, then go back over it. What’s important to you, what’s not? See how many things you can eliminate.
  3. Find New Traditions. Drive your loved ones to a new neighborhood to see holiday lights, look at family photo albums, or bundle up the generations and stand outside with cups of warm cider to toast the season. 
  4. Communicate. Even young children will understand if you say you can’t spend all of Christmas day at home because you need to visit Grandpa, and your spouse will better understand your stress, sorrow, and guilt if you share it openly.
  5. Delegate. Instead of doing every holiday task yourself—shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking—ask your loved ones to help. 
  6. Make Time for Yourself. Probably the best thing you can do for your family is to take care of yourself during the holidays. Take naps, sit quietly and read a book, take a walk, do yoga or anything else that relaxes you. By guarding your own health and sanity, you will be a better caregiver, one who can truly enjoy the beauty of the holidays, because you’ll have more energy and quality time for the people you love.

Sidebar/We See Possibilities, Not Limitations

At Maria Regina, residents and families discover a home away from home, one where every individual enjoys a lifestyle designed to promote optimal health and well-being. We provide:

  •       Spacious, exclusively private rooms for each resident
  •       Personalized holistic care plans
  •       Superior short-term rehabilitation programs
  •       A compassionate pastoral care team
  •       A climate of faith and understanding that honors each individual
  •       Highly-skilled, caring medical staff and aides
  •       Beautiful chapel with daily Mass and prayer services
  •       Innovative community activities and creative programs
  •       Refined restaurant-style dining
  •       Tranquil 212-acre campus
  •       Garden courtyards, solarium, and porches
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